AP NEWS

Governor’s choice to lead state prisons opts out

February 27, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s choice to run the state’s prison system said Tuesday she will not take the job, citing personal issues.

The governor had named Julie Jones last month to lead the post that oversees a long-troubled system with 7,300 inmates and 20,000 people on probation or parole.

Jones had recently served as corrections secretary in Florida, which has roughly 96,000 inmates. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said she was disappointed by the announcement.

“I felt and feel she would have been exactly the keen-eyed, experienced leader the agency needed,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “But I respect and understand Julie’s decision and her privacy and wish her well.”

The governor’s office has begun its search for another nominee. Nora Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor, couldn’t immediately say how soon Lujan Grisham will make a decision.

Jones’s appointment had not yet been approved by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

The state Corrections Department has struggled in recent years to hire and retain officers, and avoid growing overtime expenses. Jones had said that addressing staff vacancies was a priority for the governor.